TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
The Beauty of a Compliment
Many evenings, when the stifling heat and the blaring noises of the city have taken its toll, Léon and I retreat to a small park on the ocean’s edge. It is there that brisk breezes bring a reprieve to our bodies and souls.
Recently, on one particular evening, we sat on a short, wide wall surrounding the park. I sat with my back against a square pillar where I happened to be invisible to people coming to the park from the left. It was not until four little girls were right next to me that they noticed that I was there. Instantly, the word “blan” (white) escaped from one little girl’s mouth. All four little girls just stopped and stared! They lingered and looked for longer than I expected. The three younger girls eventually scampered off, finally turning to wait for their friend who was still lingering. Having had enough of a gaze, she decided to join her friends. As she ran up to them, I overheard her say in a very expressive voice, “She is beautiful!” I looked at Léon and together we shared a delightful laugh. You see, my days of youth are gone, but in this little girl’s eyes she saw beauty regardless of my age or actual physical characteristics! For that very moment, this little girl had paid me a wonderful compliment, without even speaking the words directly to me! I will treasure this memory in my heart!
Our encounter with the little girls was not over. They could not resist coming back yet one more time to see the white lady. This time we had a little conversation with them, while they satisfied the irresistible urge to touch me. We learned that they were a very long walk away from their homes for little girls six years old and younger. We were relieved to learn that they were actually there with an adult who was selling food to the cement workers at the wharf. At least they were within running distance to an adult and not on the streets totally on their own as many times is the case. The girls took turns admiring different things about me. They told me I had a beautiful dress and beautiful earrings and beautiful long nail-polished fingernails. My fingernails were a major attraction. They touched them, they smelled them, and they tugged on them to see if they were real. Attention was then diverted to my hair as three of them climbed on the wall and had excited conversations while they played with my soft hair that is so unlike their own. It was not until Léon told them they had touched enough, that they moved onto other parts of interest. I really thought I was going to get a free ear-cleaning as the oldest carefully inspected my ears. The girls examined everything with expressions of “Oohs!” and “Ahhs!” As uncomfortable as this situation would have been for some people, I was awash of the pure pleasure of watching these little girls’ innocent enjoyment. I was the actual benefactor!
This simple event reminded me of how uplifting a simple compliment can be! I need to practice giving compliments more often! Little 6 year olds can be great teachers! Thank you little lady!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time, God willing …………